Thoughts on Aging and Dying

imagesIf I ever had the desire to live a long life, I don’t anymore. I know that sound horribly morbid and depressing, but I don’t mean it that way. Please do not think I’m suicidal or depressed, it’s just that I have seen the plight of so many elderly people, and I wouldn’t mind skipping that phase of life. I don’t think any of us would. I visit hospitals and nursing homes on a regular basis. I see the loneliness, humiliation, and the suffering that takes place when the body and brain have lost the ability to function.   I have also officiated all sorts of funerals. All of them are sad, but not always in the same way. The most awful funerals are the ones where there are no tears.

To me, the saddest funerals are not the suicides, the murdered, or even the children. The worst funerals are the ones where nobody particularly cares that somebody has died. These are rare, but I have seen them. Each time the person has had a long bout with some mental or emotional illness. They have usually been in a nursing home for decades and loved ones have detached themselves and moved on with life.

When I die, I don’t want people to be overly sad, but I would like to be missed. I would like to be remembered for good things. Hopefully, people will remember me for the fun times and the worthwhile things that I stood for. I want to be remembered for times I spent with loved ones where hearts were touched and lives were changed. I would like people to think of me once in a while on holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries; but not in sad ways. Please remember the laughter and the fun. I don’t want to be remembered for my mistakes, for times of anger, or for the way I died. I guess most of all, I want to die with some dignity.

Pain comes with death because of love. I’ll gladly take the pain because I want the love, and I want to die knowing I’m loved. Nobody wants to put their loved ones through pain. At the same time, who wants to be unloved. I can think of nothing worse than to not be loved. I want to leave an impact on life, and I want for people to at least notice when I’m gone. Nobody wants to outlive their mind, nor does anybody want to suffer through long-term agony before inevitably dying.

I don’t think we need to dread death like we do. It’s going to happen sooner or later, and as far as I’m concerned, now is as good as time as any. I think we all fear death. It is unknown to us and we fear the unknown, even people of faith. I am no different, but , I fear the losing of my mind and suffering more than I fear death. I have no desire whatsoever to outlive my mind or my body’s ability to function. I don’t want my life supported by some machine. I don’t want my health care to cost beyond what I can pay, and I don’t want to be a burden on anybody.

We tend to go to great lengths to postpone the inevitable. Perhaps the inevitable shouldn’t be postponed. What if the inevitable is actually a good thing? Too many consider death the ultimate calamity to be avoided at all cost. We even guilt trip loved ones into painful procedures if there is the slightest chance of prolonging life. Some would even call it a sin if there is a way to prolong life and you don’t do it. I’m not so sure about that. Maybe all the machines and drugs we use to prolong life are not part of God’s will at all. Seems to me the natural order of things is that if we live long enough the body gives out and we die. I’m good with that.

I believe in taking care of my body and my mind by natural means. When it comes to astronomical medical expenses, lifelong medications,  and painful surgeries and procedures just to keep me alive;  I think I’ll pass.  Is that wrong? I think not. If I can’t afford something, I don’t want it;  nor do  I want the guilt from people who think I should do everything possible to postpone the inevitable. It baffles my mind why we administer CPR to a person who is dying from terminal cancer or why we keep a person alive by machine when they will never be able function without it. But that is what people do. We may think we are prolonging life, but all  we are really doing is prolonging suffering.

I hope that when I die, there are people around me who care, and I hope those people care enough about me to let me go.



About Ken Sayers

I’m just a man on a journey somewhere between Heaven and Hell. I seek acceptance and meaning in life just like everyone else.
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